Wednesday, November 17, 2021

On The First Day Of Christmas, My Brand Gave To Me

"Oh, this is cute," the woman says to her friend. The "cute" thing is a display set up in the middle of the floor that looks vaguely like a little woodland clearing as conceived by a set dresser on a budget, with a plastic ball covered in plastic leaves hanging under a sign that reads, "Celebrate under the mistletoe with UGG."

As they arrange themselves for their perfect Instagram pic, I snarkily think to myself, "Enjoy your branded holidays!" 

But then I think of Coca-Cola, and Macy's holiday parades, and Hershey's Kisses, and Life-Savers, and all the other ways that brands have basically made Christmas, at least the modern version, and I forgive them, and myself, and go about my day. 

Death Is Weird

An ad comes on for health insurance, or maybe it's for a new drug, and the characters in this cheerfully-lit, brightly colored world are raising money for their pickleball team. 

Pickleball is a game favored by older people for being competitive while still being not-too physically demanding, and my dad played it a lot in the last years of his life, so of course he comes to mind, and a wave of bewilderment passes over me.

I walk back to find Katie in the bathroom, washing her face. "It's weird that dad is dead," I say, and she nods.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Fat Lot Of Good It's Doing Me

This cough has me playing everybody's favorite new game: "Is it just a cold, or do you have Covid?" It wakes me up at 2 in the morning and doesn't let me get back to sleep until well past 6, only to descend into stress dreams from which I wake, kicking at the walls and flailing at the covers.

When I go in for my obligatory Covid test ("You know other diseases still exist, right?" Katie asks by way of reassuring me) the nurse says, "Your blood pressure is better than mine." 

"Yeah, I do yoga," I say, before another coughing fit takes me.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Friendly Warning

"This little light of mine," the two old men sing as they walk down the subway car, hats out for change the commuters dutifully throw in, "I'm gonna let it shine."

They make it all the way down the train before they make it in front of the old man reading a book, who is not pleased to have his quiet disrupted. "Shut up," he snarls, but they don't miss a beat. 

"Hide it under a bushel, no, I'm gonna punch your nose," they sing.

Writing About Writing About Writing

With a sigh, I put down the ebook and push my phone off to one side. The empty paper bowl from the microwave lunch I ate on my break sits in front of me, a discarded, partly cheese-encrusted shell.

I open up my notebook, find the next blank page, and as I have done so many, many times over the years, I write the date at the top, and then begin. "I remember days writing," I write, "where I scribbled words just to write, chasing that feeling of inspiration."

Wednesday, November 3, 2021


"Mom and I talked about how it's been almost four months since dad died, and she said that it hits her the most when she reads a comic in the newspaper or an article and thinks, 'Oh, I have to tell Donn about that,' but she can't.

"She says sometimes she just wants to take it into his office and read the article to his ashes," I continue, "even though she doesn't believe in an afterlife or anything."

"That's okay," Katie says from the other room. "I pray to a god I don't believe in all the time."

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

A Drink Called The Ameila

Katie’s purple cocktail tastes like a good kiss: rich, sexy, sweet, and it goes straight to your head. The coupe is frosted with a sugar rim that goes half-way down the glass which makes it impossible not to get a mouthful of crystalline joy with every swallow. I stand behind her at the bar, chatting with the bartender and stealing sips of her drink, until the couple next to us move a seat down, whether in irritation or just to offer me a place to park.

I pretend not to notice their disappearance, and casually slide into the seat after what I consider to be an appropriate interval. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

Those Were The Days - Halloween Edition

I sit on the front steps with my old friend after lunch as fall, having finally gotten its shit together, blesses the afternoon with clear blue skies and a crisp breeze.

“Bubble gum?” I ask, incredulous, but he shakes his head sadly.

“No bubble gum,” he replies, and then, “All the candy seemed the same, like everybody got the same bags of regular candy from the same stores, none of the weird stuff we used to get.”

“Loose candy corn, just thrown in the bag,” he adds, almost wistfully.